Texas GOP slammed over proposal to give indicted AG new powers to hunt for Trump's Big Lie
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Republicans in Texas were slammed by the Editorial Board for the Houston Chronicle on Friday over a proposal to give embattled state Attorney General Ken Paxton expanded power to investigate former President Donald Trump's election fraud conspiracy theories.

"On this January day in the year 2023, we can confidently report that the city council of Inverness, Scotland, is not launching a flotilla of sonar-equipped boats on nearby Loch Ness, despite a timeless rumor that a mysterious long-necked 'monster' has made its home for eons in the lake’s 800-foot depths," wrote the board. "It’s a different story in Austin, where one of the most prominent elected officials in Texas is wasting his office’s time and resources and taxpayers’ money chasing after a mythical beast, injuring innocent bystanders in the process. Ken Paxton, who must surely be America’s most corrupt attorney general, continues his foolish quest for widespread voter fraud, despite fewer incidents of the phenomenon than credible Sasquatch sightings over the years."

"To call his quest quixotic is an insult to Don Quixote," wrote the board. "Unlike Cervantes’ misguided hero, Paxton surely knows the truth. He keeps up the pretense, though, in pathetic imitation of another Don, a former president whose incessant blatherings about stolen elections keep the MAGA faithful in high dudgeon more than two years after their hero was soundly defeated in a fair election. In Texas and in other fervid red states, the groundless election-fraud claim, as Jonathan Lemire puts it in his recent book 'The Big Lie,' has 'metastasized' from a campaign cris de coeur into the 'cold, methodical process of legislation.'"

The board specifically points to a pair of bills introduced in the Texas legislature: House Bill 678, by Rep. Keith Bell, which would let Paxton appoint the DA of one county as a special prosecutor for election fraud in an adjacent one — a clear ploy to let red counties next to large liberal cities like Austin or Houston "investigate" votes there — and House Bill 125, by Rep. Bryan Slaton, which would let Paxton ask courts to block local DAs from "limiting" election investigations if they decide they are meritless. All of this stems from a recent ruling by the all-Republican Texas Court of Criminal Appeals limiting Paxton's authority to unilaterally prosecute election fraud investigations.

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Ironically, as the board noted in the title of the piece, Paxton himself is the suspected criminal here, being under indictment for securities fraud in a case that has kicked around the courts for over half a decade with no progress on advancing to trial.

Paxton, the board concluded, is "following a pernicious playbook designed to discourage voters in a number of red states around the country who might be expected to cast their ballots for Democrats. Paxton and his political ilk end up interfering with local election administrators and discouraging would-be polling place volunteers. Who would want to volunteer if an innocent mistake puts you at risk of going to jail? What we would like to see is a cadre of elected officials who understand that their duty, their sacred duty in a democracy, is to help their citizens vote fairly and securely, not to use phony warnings about fraud to erect obstacles."